The Mayor warns that local future funding of the NHS must be secure


The Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville warns that future funding of the NHS locally must be secured and not used to plug gaps elsewhere in North East London.

"This week, alongside Cllr Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Devolution, I visited Homerton University Hospital to meet staff, patients and Homerton Helpers volunteers in a range of services including Sexual Health, the Neonatal Unit, the Integrated Independence Team, Patient Advisory Liaison Service and the Emergency Department. 

Each person across all departments has an important role to play whether it is a volunteer who is helping a patient or their family at what can be a very unsettling time for everyone, to highly trained and skilled medical staff in the Neonatal Unit looking after incredibly small and premature babies, while sharing their expertise with other hospitals thanks to their excellent track record.

With changes to health and social care, both in Hackney and across the country, there is uncertainty about what happens in the future and we all know parts of the NHS continue to face significant challenges. I'm however very proud that we have somewhere like the Homerton in Hackney, a hospital which is not only grounded in the community, but also made up of so many regional and national centres of excellence like the Emergency Department, the Sexual Health service and Neonatal Unit . 

The partnership between Homerton Hospital, City and Hackney CCG and the Council is a great example of local funding spent well. Meeting the staff in the A and E department and hearing how they were able to maintain their excellent service and performance even in the extreme cold weather this winter is a key reminder of why we need to ensure that future funding is secure. The Homerton was one of the best performing hospitals in the country, underpinned not just by the amazing teams in A and E, but also the joint Council and hospital Integrated Independence Team who work with people who need extra support to return home.

As we move towards integrating health and social care we must ensure the excellent work within our local health system is not lost. The North East London Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) continues to raise questions as there has been a lack of transparency and not enough engagement with the public and councils. I hope that this is now more understood and that the situation will improve.

We are one of 44 NHS STPs across the country. Our STP covers seven London boroughs and ‘The City’, and it must make around £500 million in savings by 2020/21. Councils have no formal sign-off on its proposals, this sits with the area’s seven Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and NHS London, but it is supposed to be a collaborative process.

Communication and engagement has improved around these changes, but we must make sure that there is less confusion about what is taking place so that residents can be reassured, patients are clear on what to expect and there is less anxiety for health professionals already working extremely hard to future proof these vital services.

Within our STP, key decisions proposed by NHS England include replacing the seven Chief Officers of the seven CCGs in our STP area with one Accountable Officer and creating Accountable Care Systems (ACS) which will mean grouping together across some local authority areas.

Previously the seven Chief Officers worked closely with their partner councils, but under the proposals there will only be one person with responsibility for all these roles. This has raised concern over fewer decisions being made in the local interest and less effective scrutiny, with more decisions being made at a regional level. These fears also raise concerns over how decisions can be made on a local level so health and social care can be tailored to meet the needs of different communities.

Hackney Council, Homerton Hospital, City and Hackney CCG and other health organisations in the borough have a good track record of working together. We are one of the few areas in London delivering on performance targets and able to invest in new services.

As far as we’re concerned, local organisations working with their residents, patients and voluntary sector are best placed to deliver an effective and sustainable person-centred system, alongside the wider NHS. 

Our local NHS performs well and has managed its finances better than most other areas. We are clear that we won’t accept any proposal that takes vital funds away from Hackney to plug gaps in other parts of North East London. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is not a long term plan for our NHS, and nationally policy makers could learn a lot from Hackney."

Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville